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March 15, 2023
People3 DEI Consultant and CMA Senior Director of Internal Relations and Inclusion, Mia McNeal, led a “Power Hour” talk on March 15, 2023, at Country Radio Seminar. CRS is a three-day educational event that gathers key business leaders in various music industry fields, featuring presentations on best business practices, emerging technology, personal career development and more. Titled “Beyond the Box: A Conversation on Expansive Inclusion,” McNeal’s talk focused on the idea that, “inclusion isn’t just about race or gender–it is as basic as decency and humanity.”

McNeal encouraged conversations with people who have different perspectives, and recalled her childhood as a Black child in rural Arkansas. She also shared her insights on how diversity, equity, and inclusion are the key to improving any organization, but how these terms can often be misunderstood. McNeal shared an anecdote about her experience in a previous role to illustrate her point. “Before I started at CMA, I was an entrepreneur and one of my clients was a woman-owned firm. Inside of that firm, all of the employees were women. Because she gets it, right? But she didn’t get it when all of them became pregnant. Diversity in that space would have been some men. “When we’re thinking about how to be diverse, it’s not just a matter of checking a box. It’s a matter of looking around the room and figuring out what’s underrepresented.”

She also encouraged discourse among people who have different perspectives and backgrounds. “Conversation,” McNeal said, “is for education–and that equity doesn’t have to mean scarcity.”

“To get something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done,” she said. “Forget ‘stranger danger.’ Talk to people you don’t know. Engage with a different audience. “Don’t be afraid to talk to people and meet them where they are and listen”. Actually listen. Listen to people who have nothing in common with you. When I say listen, I mean really listen. Not listen and come up with your rebuttal.”

McNeal’s talk left listeners with a final message about diversity inclusion: No matter who you are, you can walk into a room and you bring diversity into it because you’re different. Your perspective is different. What you’ve gone through is different.”

McNeal has been a Senior DEI Consultant at people3 since 2019, and has worked with various organizations including Ingram, Mechanical Systems Company, PathGroup, SESAC, Ritter Communications, Pathway Lending, Pathway Women’s Center, Catholic Charities, Center for NonProfit Management, and CMA as a part of their full-time staff. Her favorite thing about her work is helping individuals tap into their humanity, so that people can start to see the goodness in others.